Welcome back! Today I am going to be answering a few questions I’ve received about being vegan! You can check out my Youtube video or scroll down to read my written answers.
Q: What inspired you to go vegan and when?
For me, the two biggest factors at play in my decision to be vegan were: my chronic migraines and my love for animals.
I’ve suffered from migraines since I was about 13 or so, and they have had a huge impact on my life. I would have to call out sick from work, cancel fun plans, and constantly worry about when the next one would happen. My side effects included vomiting, blurred vision, dizziness, tingling in my face, and sometimes the inability to even stand or walk. I tried everything – meds, oils, holistic treatments, etc., but none had lasting affects (in fact, the medicine that a specialist prescribed to me actually made it worse). That is until July of 2017 when I came across research linking dairy to an increase in migraines for migraine patients. This study found that when patients cut out dairy, they saw a significant drop in their migraines. This is what triggered my interest in at least trying a vegan diet and once we started this lifestyle in August of 2017, the frequency of my migraines dropped drastically. I had 2-3 migraines a month before and now I have 2-3 PER YEAR.
Also, I have always loved animals. I have three special pets whom I love as if they were my children. They have emotions, personalities, and feel pain. I could never imagine hurting them, let alone slaughtering them for a meal that lasts only a few minutes. How could I treat cows, pigs, lambs, etc. like this? Are they really different from my dogs that love warm laundry and kisses, or the cat that curls up to me in bed? These questions kept coming up more and more until I decided that I just couldn’t participate in something that harmed other sentient beings. Did you know pigs are a lot like dogs, except they are way smarter? Cows act a lot like dogs too, and they love and care for their calves the same way human mothers care for their babies. I could never imagine enabling the separation of a human mother and child, so how could I support the separation of a cow and her baby?
These two reasons are still what largely motivate me today. Of course I’ve learned a lot of other reasons to be vegan like for health reasons, the environment, and general human rights. But even if being vegan wasn’t as healthy as it scientifically is, if it wasn’t as sustainable as it is, I would still be vegan because I could never go back to eating the flesh of an animal that did not want to die and was terrified when they were taken to the slaughterhouse or ripped apart from their baby.
Q: How did you start out making the transition? Did you cut meat out all at once or little by little?
When discussing our transition, I like to call it our vegan journey because we did not make the change overnight. While there are definitely people who can and do go vegan overnight, if that idea overwhelms you I suggest making a plan similar to what we did.
We started by cutting out animal products from our grocery list. This means that we only bought vegan items to cook with at home. However, we would still occasionally eat animal products when we dined out, ate at someone else’s house, or at a social event. This led to us eating animal products probably 3-4 times a month for the first few months and the frequency slowly decreased little by little. After about 8 months or so, we could no longer stomach the idea of eating meat. We would still eat cheese occasionally or dairy in baked goods, but after a year we stopped eating cheese completely as well. It wasn’t until 1.5 years after starting this journey that we got to the point of absolutely refusing to eat anything that contained animal products. So in short, it took us 1.5 years to go fully vegan, never to look back. This is why I call it a journey. We have been socialized to eat animal products so we crave them and feel like we need them in our diets. We also form emotional ties to certain foods so it takes time for new ties to form.
If it takes you months or years to go fully vegan, I think that is ok. I think it’s normal to take time to unlearn the things you’ve been taught your whole life.
Q: Other than beans, what are the best sources of protein?
There are definitely some misconceptions regarding protein and how much protein we actually need. I’ve shared a graphic below that show some awesome sources of vegan protein. If you notice out of the first ten sources with the most protein, only one item listed is made from beans. So it’s not only possible to get more than enough protein on a plant based diet without eating beans, it’s actually fairly easy.
However, the point is to not feel like “protein” is a discrete section of your plate. As long as you’re eating a variety of whole plant based foods, you are guaranteed to get enough protein. Just like I would never encourage someone to count their calories, I would never encourage anyone to measure their protein intake. People often to say to “eat the rainbow,” meaning to eat a variety of plants in an abundance and you will be set.
The No B.S. Guide to Vegan Protein is an amazing article from a source I trust. Here’s my favorite quote from the article:
“It’s not just tofu, beans, and nuts that pack the protein in a plant-based diet. Indeed, just about everything else in whole-food, plant-based diets—grains, veggies, everything except most fruit—has a protein content at or above 12 to 15 percent of total calories. Put it all together, and you get a diet that provides you with plenty of protein—even as an athlete.”
With all that being said, I am not a health professional so I would consult with a trusted doctor before making any definite decisions. Obviously, this is written for the average person. Someone like a professional body builder might see a benefit to counting calories and protein.
Q: How can I remove the rest of animal products from my diet (eggs, fish, cheese)?
I think the best way to do this is to do what I mentioned earlier. Start by making it a goal to not cook with any of those items at home and just have them when you dine out or eat a someone else’s house. My guess is that you will eventually stop craving them altogether like we did.
Another option is to buy the vegan alternative to those items, but that can get expensive. We try not to buy many processed vegan items for health and budget purposes (I like to spend around $60 a week on groceries, and vegan cheese and frozen items can add up fast as can many animal products as well).
Maybe when first transitioning you could buy vegan cheese and use it as you normally would (Follow Your Heart and Daiya are my favorite brands). There are also some frozen vegan fish alternatives to try as well from brands like Gardein or Quorn. When we first started we bought the meat substitutes and vegan cheeses every grocery trip, but we eventually stopped craving the taste and texture so we rarely buy it now.
As for eggs, you can use applesauce, pumpkin, or flax in place of eggs for baking. A lot of brownie/cake mixes, muffin mixes, and pancake mixes are vegan if you add an egg replacement and plant milk instead of their dairy alternatives. If you’re craving scrambled eggs, scrambled tofu is amazing and tastes super similar to the real thing with no cholesterol 🙂 We use the recipe from the cookbook But I Could Never Go Vegan, but here is a free one that looks good too.
I hope this provided some helpful and interesting information for you! If you have any other questions, feel free to comment here or direct message me on my Instagram @charlieograntham 🙂